Program: New York
Intake: September 1997
Current Role: Director at www.bentleyediting.com
“Having worked in high profile roles at the United Nations, American Express and the Australian Government, I truly understand the importance of accurate and punchy writing. I also recall an embarrassing moment from many years ago when a professor reviewing my PhD dissertation found several grammatical and spelling errors in my final draft. This ditracted significantly from the content and to a degree risked the eventual publishing of some of the material!”
How did you get into this line of business?
Attention to detail is my strong point. Writing and editing high quality material has been the cornerstone of my professional career. Hence I felt that it was merely a natural progression to bring together my experience in editing publications and a desire to help other people into a small boutique editing and proofreading business. Life is so fast paced these days that sometimes having your academic or professional work proofread prior to review or publication is overlooked.
I recall on a couple of occasions during my extraordinary year at the Mountbatten program in NYC (back in the Roaring Nineties) helping classmates proofread their assignments. It was always quid pro quo of course. In return I might have received a free meal or a tip on a new cheap café or bar in the downtown area that was my main stomping ground.
How did you go about setting it up and getting established?
Like many of us, I guess, procrastination was my main roadblock. Once overcome, I turned to the Internet and chose Wix as my website development partner. Wix has been very easy to use and I hope helped me create a professional looking website at a low cost. Registering the business name and getting the tax affairs in order were also important. Then comes marketing and doing quality work so people keep coming back. Please give me a try if you need any academic papers or work publications edited – discount rates for ‘Mountbatteners’ apply (sorry, not a subtle plug!).
What else is in the pipeline?
Aside from raising three incredible young boys, setting up a blog on the value of interning overseas for young Australians. This will include a special feature on our awesome Mountbatten Program of course! I am also about to pen the first few words of ‘my novel’. Yes a lifelong pet project that has made me the laughing stock of friends and family….”how’s that novel of yours coming along Matt…”
What has been the proudest moment in your working life thus far?
That is a really difficult question. Gladly enough there have been a few in the twenty plus years I spent working in the private and mostly public sectors. I think to be frank it was my time training government officials on environmental policy tools at workshops in eastern and southern Africa and Asia during my stint as a program officer at UNEP. I honestly felt like I was giving something back rather than just shuffling papers around the office!
What has been your biggest mistake/learning experience?
Where to start. I think I made a ‘mistake’ in most working weeks of my career. I tried to learn from them and certainly own up to them which I think is really important from a personal integrity perspective. As an internal auditor it was my job to find business errors and problems and I found plenty of them. However I always truly admired the business manager that would own up to procedural weaknesses on the first day of the audit rather than waiting for me to uncover them!
A specific example that comes to mind was when I was overseeing an annual internal budgeting process for the Australian Government’s overseas aid program ($7 billion). My team managed to nail the budget for 31 of the 32 organisation’s business units, but managed to underestimate and hence stuff up our own business unit budget for the upcoming financial year; much to the consternation of our Branch Head (oops!). Key lesson: Never overlook what is right in front of you.
Any words of advice/wisdom would you impart to others thinking of setting up their own business?
A close friend of mine imparted these important words on me a few months ago: “find out where your passion, meets what others need”. And then just go for it. Life is too short.